By the late afternoon, Magister Wen had returned.

Petra ceased her delivery of Gwen’s bridging course and aided her master in delivering new components to the central laboratory.

When the last crystalline box was filed away, Magister Wen turned to Gwen with curious eyes, as though she was examining a rare and unusual specimen.

“So, you’re Gwen Song,” the bookish Magister shook Gwen’s hand with her studied, skeletal fingers.

“It’s good to meet you, Ma’am.” Gwen bowed after they shook. “Petra has had nothing but praise for your expertise and your care.”

“She's ever the star student.” Wen glanced at Petra with amusement, drawing a rare blush from the laconic Mineral Mage. “Now I know she is also a good flatterer.”

Petra shot Gwen a perturbed look which made the other two laugh out loud.

"At any rate, we're not big on formality here, just call me Ms Wen, no need for Mage titles."

"Thank you, Ms Wen." Gwen curtsied expertly, taking on the offer of intimacy as to bring them closer.

Magister Marie-Roslyn Wen appeared to be a bookish Enchanter-Transmuter who, like Petra, had a rare affiliation with the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Mineral. She was ethnically Chinese, but years of practising the Mineral arts had tinted her once dark eyes with the likeness of emeralds, making her pupils peculiar and striking on her classically Han facial structure. As for height, the Magister was average, measuring five-foot-five from head to toe, with a slight stoop to her spine. Bodily, she possessed a build akin to Earthen Mages, small and compact, with a rigid exactitude to her body language as she talked. When Gwen further enquired if she was an expatriated scholar, the Magister affirmed that she had grown up in England as a child to expat parents on an exchange.

When the polite small talk had ceased, the trio sat down to some tea, with Magister Wen going over Gwen’s file with an expression of delight.

“Klavdiya’s right, this does read like four Acolytes crammed into one,” Wen mused as she scrutinised the thickly annotated bundle. “Petra has her work cut out for her. Did your grandmother explain the cost of tuition?”

“You wished to study my Void Magic?”

“'We' wish to, dear. Petra and I, and you as well, I'd imagine.” Wen sipped her camomile gingerly. “You are not averse to exercising your affinity, I presume?”

“No, it’ll be my pleasure to assist you, Ma’am,” Gwen replied demurely, choosing a display of modesty over bravado. "Though there is a significant cost in vitality beyond the third tier of spells."

“Knowing your limits is a good thing,” Wen assured Gwen. “We shall endeavour to err on the side of your preservation and safety. Numbers aside, I am interested in the way Void manifests as it contacts material objects. The fact that you’re well-versed in Conjuration, Evocation, Transmutation and Abjuration makes this beyond perfect. Say, you’re not interested in taking on some Enchanting, are you?”

“Not at the moment, Ms Wen.” Gwen felt a tingle of premonition tickling the base of her spine. If she were to covet the talent, it would mean feeding Caliban an Enchanter or two, or a dozen. There was a slippery slope there that Gwen knew better than to let herself slide down. The abyss looks back, or so it goes, and she had no intention of becoming a second Elizabeth Sobel.

They conversed for another half an hour or so until Petra professed that she had to return to her laboratory work. Gwen bid the two Mineral Enchanters goodbye with the promise of returning Monday to Saturdays for her tuition, and to assist in Wen’s curious investigation of the properties of Void-matter.

When Gwen opened the door to leave, she was braved by a young man who looked to be in his twenties, holding a bouquet of spring-time flowers; loitering palely in the corridor.

“Is… Ms Kuznetsov in?” The young man asked nervously. His eyes widened when his gaze fell upon Gwen. “Oh, S-sorry! My name is Baili. Has her lab work finished for the day?”

“Pats!” Gwen called out into the lab, her mouth grinning broadly. “You have an admirer here!”

“A-admirer?!” Baili’s eyes shifted nervously. “I suppose… yeah. That’s it exactly! I am an ardent admirer!”

Petra came stomping from the lab in her white coat, armed principally with a bearing full of displeasure and impatience.

Oh no, Gwen winced. I know that look.

Her cousin confronted the young man quaking in her presence.

“Bai, I told you."


"No. I am not interested. I don’t date.”

“But… I am just an admirer!” Baili seemed to relish the new moniker he’d acquired. “Please accept this gift. That’s all I desire. From your admirer!”

Petra reached out and plucked the bouquet from Baili’s hands.
The vibrant flowers passed under her nose.

“Ah-Cho!” Petra’s eyes watered from the pollen. These were very fresh, and exceptionally vibrant flowers.

And there it is, Gwen winced again. At least do your homework and find out if Petra has pollen allergies.

Petra pulled her face away from Baili's gift with a look of annoyance.

“S-sorry! I didn’t know…” Baili panicked.

With a thump that might as well have left a trail of blood on the wall, Petra threw the bouquet against the top of a bin that was conveniently placed in the corridor. The flowers lingered for a vertical moment, then slid home into the darkness.

“Don’t bother me again,” Petra stated coldly before turning to Gwen. “Gwen, check your Message device. Babs said that she's organising a banquet tonight and has invited everyone. She'd gone home now to prepare. I'll meet you here at 1800, and we'll go together.”

“Okay, thanks Pats. Is Babulya not meeting your master?”

"Not that I know. Master's probably organised something with Babs."

Gwen checked her Message device. Sure enough, a recording had just come through.

"See you in a few hours," Petra said to Gwen. "Don't interrupt me with trivial stuff like this next time."

Petra then gave Baili the evil eye before closing the double doors.

Gwen breathed out and turned to regard the pale-faced Baili. Ah, she waxed sentimentally. The sorrows of youth and love; won and lost.

“I should go.” Baili looked as though someone had pulled out his spine and beat him bloody with it. Gwen once again came face to face with an unfortunate truth; Petra had no chill. “Goodbye.”

Gwen followed the young man as he descended the stairs with a Prufrockian air. She felt such sympathy for the love-struck fellow; watching the exchange had induced her with such an acute nostalgia. Gwen had taken on five years of tertiary education in her past life, studying at Sydney U. Unlike her horrid high school days, university was a highlight. She made friends; she attended classes with the best and the brightest; she partied hard and studied hard. She found her earliest taste of love there as well, meeting a bevvy of admirers ranging from adventurous, reserved, academic to the occasional mad, bad and dangerous to know.

Those Halcyon days had felt as though a glass of water remained at the end of every day; that her jug of daily time was perpetual. Such was life in her old world, relaxed, easygoing, passionate and free, a far cry from the endless crisis within which she was now ceaselessly entangled.

Back then, her greatest paranoia had been the prospect of a Big Three internship.

Comparatively, in her new life, her five-year plan involved the best way to approach the cold-blooded execution of her Master’s ex-wife, carefully coordinated with a thirty-something woman who summoned meteors from the sky and a man who was the avatar of the Sun God Apollo.

But, Gwen pulled her wild thoughts from her mind. Things could be worse.

She could be this miserable sod walking in front of her.

The self-deprecating humour made Gwen feel better, and she took the courage to tap the stranger on the shoulder.

“Yes?” the man turned to her with eyes swollen with disappointment.

“Say, wanna grab a coffee?” Gwen smiled at the young man with her dazzling teeth. “I want you to tell me all about Petra.”

* * *

“… and that’s about all I have to say.” Baili felt his spirit immensely lifted by Gwenn's pep talk. ‘Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all,’ the girl had told him, said to be quoted from an English Magister named Lord Alfred Tennyson.

Seeing that it was Baili's treat, Gwen allowed the lemon meringue tart to melt in her mouth luxuriously. It was time well spent; she had now scraped a good volume of information from the good-natured fellow whom Petra had stomped to the curb.

According to Baili, Petra had been considered as one of the top belles of the school since she arrived two years ago. Her looks, her talent, her Spell-Cubes; all of which caught the attention of the school’s Student Committee, who wanted her as a poster-child for promoting Fudan. A position of envy for many who desired fame and fortune.

To the surprise of all involved, Petra refused, citing her work at the laboratory, but the lumen-pics of her visage had already become famous around the campus. Since then, she’s had an endless stream of pursuers, ranging from delightful to polite, forceful to outright possessive, becoming unbidden prize of many a manly duel between the male, and sometimes female, students.

Speaking to Baili and having him talk at length about the Univerisity also gave Gwen much insight into the student body of Fudan; chiefly split into several stereotyped sub-groups:

The Little Gong-zi, or Gong-zhu, were the privileged few, the ’young masters’ of Clans and notable houses, typically equipped with an entourage of lackeys. These pupils are mutually acquainted with one another from Clan gatherings and contests outside of University, and so formed their elite social group, ranging from ones based on geography to particular philosophical sects. When Gwen pushed for examples, she found that Fredrick Lin's brother, Melvin Lin, was a member of this group.

Conversely, the Guan-er-dai, or more accurately known by the officious moniker of the Political Progeny, were descendants of officials in the PLA. These men and women, typically sons and daughters of the officials that ruled Shanghai and its surrounding Frontiers, are afforded special privileges and opportunities by the power and advantage enjoyed by their parents. For Gwen, these were the ones to avoid, as they spelt endless trouble; not unlike a hornet's nest. Her old nemesis, Dai Fung was one such member of this austere group.

Finally, these were joined by the Fu-er-dai, the Progenies of Prosperity, referring to the sons and daughters of influential business leaders, who are similarly afforded great opportunity by bloodlines and limitless resources. Comparatively, these were the most harmless. Tao and Mina belonged to this group, who occupied the middle-strata of privilege in Fudan.

Below the triple triad of the well-inherited, the politically-advantaged, and the resource-rich, were the regular students who formed the majority of Fudan, mostly middle-class and from well-to-do families, each with useful talents and unique skills. As invisible as these students may be, it was they who would form the backbone of Chinese society, becoming its Administrators, District Officials, Fabricators, Army Lieutenants and the glue that held the rare few at the top and the burgeoning bottom together. The creme de la creme of these students were the Scholarship students, commoners who had risen above the masses to stand toe-to-toe with the over-privileged; these had a destiny as Tower Mages.

According to Baili, life on the campus was incident-free as long as one made sure not to involve oneself with the triad of entitlement. The general rule was that the Clans were wary of the Officials, the Officials were wary of the Industrialists, and the Industrialists were wary of the Clans. A more perceptive rule was that they were all ferrets of the same den, and all of them saw commoners as egg-hens inevitably destined for the plucking. After all, these groups had by now become increasing incestuous in their shared interests.

So what did that make herself? Gwen wondered.

She imagined herself the loner, existing outside of the system, taking a little from column A, a little from column B.

To Gwen's surprise, Baili also spoke of the world outside of Shanghai, where against all the odds, there was an actual semblance of Communism. The young man himself wasn’t sure though, as he’d never ventured beyond the city’s walls other than for a holiday to the scenic Frontier.

The ‘Scenic Frontier’, Gwen had laughed uproariously when the man delivered the hilarious diatribe. Sure, if he considered the milling millions of Mermen, baying for human blood scenic.

A call came through on her Message device.

"Hello? Babulya? It's Gwen. Okay. Yes, I know, Petra told me. Alright, see you soon!"

Six O’clock crept upon them faster than Gwen had expected; she exchanged her glyph with the now spirited young man, to whom she’d promised to deliver a good word with Petra, and set off to find her cousin.

When they met at the bottom of Henglong Laboratory, Petra suggested they take the public transport so that Gwen would later know how to get home herself.

Petra had changed into a one-piece turtleneck fleece that flaunted her figure voluptuously, matched with effortless stretched-fabric pantaloons that resembled yoga-pants. For shoes, she had on a pair of well-worn military-boots which made her seem even taller. Her hair was carelessly swept back and tied just below her shoulders, forming two thick twin-tails that hung over her shoulders.

Gwen’s jaws almost dropped to the floor. Was it intentional? Or was it a coincidence? Peta had, for all intents and purposes, been trained for espionage while she was in the Moscow Tower, though that was many years ago and she had professed to leave that part of her life well behind her.

If she was dressing down reflexively, then no wonder she was driving the unfortunate young men of the university insane with lusty-angst. The girl showed not a single sliver of skin beyond her face and hands and yet inspired the imaginations far more than if she were to make the rounds in a bikini top. Less-is-more was an ironclad principle of femininity, and Petra had assumed an unconscious mastery of this cardinal rule. If her cousin had made the slightest effort of making up her face, Gwen felt that Baili would have fallen to his knees and wept like a child, becoming the first of many disciples under the queenly rule of Saint yoga-pants Petra.

The two foreign girls made an eye-catching spectacle as they perused the tube and then the bus, but Petra seemed entirely unperturbed by the glances that came their way every few seconds. She kept Gwen occupied with topics of Spellcraft, and in seemingly no time, they had arrived within walking distance of Plum-blossom Village.

* * *

The banquet was set as before, with grandfather Guo presiding at the head of the twelve-strong table.

As they entered, Gwen greeted each of the participants warmly with measured degrees of familiarity.

Clockwise from her babulya sat Jun, followed by her father, who’d returned from his mysterious ‘re-education’, followed by aunty Nen. There was a man Gwen had never seen before next to Nen, whom she could only guess as Tao and Mina’s father, beside which were his children, until they finally reached Richard and Petra and Gwen. Percy sat next to Guo, which meant that Gwen sat next to Percy, nearer to the head than she’d like.

“Oh my God! Dad!” Gwen left her seat and approached her father.
Morye looked to be in one piece but had taken on a dark tan. He also looked far leaner, tighter, his body more sinuous and trained than she had never seen in the past. According to babulya, her father had to make a pilgrimage to their ancestral village in Hebei. The ancestors must have been quite harsh on her father then, for Gwen could see that there were now visible wrinkles around his eyes and across his forehead.

“Gwen, you’re looking good. Your grandmother has told me all about your adventures. You’ve been a busy girl!” her father greeted her officiously.

“Well.” Gwen wasn’t sure how to approach Morye. They hadn’t exactly parted under the best of circumstances the last time they had seen each other. To think that if it wasn’t for him, she might be in Sydney still, training under Gunther and Alesia with her friends Yue and Elvia. But for his little escapade from the House of Song, Gwen’s life had been turned upside down, topsy-turvy, and now she had found herself in mixed circumstances of boon and bane, all thanks to this man. Then again, but for his adventure, she might not have existed. “You know how it is.”

“Well, it's good to see you looking strong.”

“Thanks, dad. How are you doing?”

“Aha ha!” her father glanced toward the head of the table, where Guo sat stoically. “I am surviving.”

“I’ll speak to you later, okay?” They separated, Gwen allowing her conflicting feelings for Morye to trump her curiosity.

“Alright, take care. I might be in Shanghai for a while; let's have a coffee.”

“Thanks, dad.”

"Hello, Uncle Wang." Gwen shook with Mina and Tao's father on the way back to her spot. "It's good to meet you finally."

"A pleasure to meet you as well, Gwen. Thank you for what you've done for my children."

"That's what family's for, Sir," Gwen replied formally. The man's handshake was firm and robust, pulling her inward slightly as they exchanged the greeting. Gwen touched a hand to his shoulders in a likewise gesture of amiable friendliness.

The Patriarch Wang laughed, a resonate and heart cackle.

"I hope there are future opportunities as well; please take care of these two rascals."

"I shall, Sir. Thank you for the gift."

"It was nothing. Call Mina if you need anything, it'll be my pleasure."

The two parted, watched by an uncertain Mina and a thoroughly impressed Tao.

Gwen retreated to her seat, hailing the others as she did so.

"Richard, how was your day?"

"I'll tell you about it after, it was rather fruitful," Richard replied.

The food on the table steamed famously. It was a banquet arranged in haste, but rare Wildland ingredients overflowed the table regardless. Hare, flying game, rare mushrooms and exotic legumes abound on the rotating lazy-susan.

“Before we begin, there’s something I would like to announce.” Babulya stood from her head of the table and spoke to the intimate gathering, her bemused eyes surveying her closest family members.

She produced from her Ring a letter embossed with the distinctive crest of Fudan University.

Gwen felt her breath catching in her throat the moment the familiar symbol appeared. Underneath the table, Richard reached over and squeezed her hand. Richard seemed entirely cool, which made Gwen realise how silly it was for her to freak. Her babulya arranged a banquet: they were in public, in front of the whole family; it was cruel and unthinkable to deliver the bad news under these circumstances.

Babulya slipped a piece of linen-like paper from the envelope and began to read.

“Dear Gwen Song… Congratulations on your Full Scholarship Admission to Fudan University-”

“OH MAO!” Tao let loose a cry of jubilation. “Fuck me! Gwen! You did it! Mao's balls! You did it!”

“That's wonderful news! Gwen!” Mina leaned over and hugged her tightly, pressing her cheeks to Gwen’s stunned face.

“Congratulations.” Richard and Petra both held their emotions in check. Richard, of course, but Petra? Had she been expecting this?

“I knew you could do it.” Her babulya walked around the table and offered her the letter. Klavdiya recalled her mid-morning visit to her old acquaintance, Jiang Luo, the Dean of Fudan. The man had held her hand and was almost on the verge of kissing her fingers, though that might be under an entirely different motive - before she stopped him cold. "A Void Mage!" the Dean repeated at least three times. "Jiantong would turn green with envy!" Furthermore, her colleague had promised her that they would take every care to ensure her granddaughter graduated magna cum laude. But those were things that Gwen needn't know, at least for now; it would only go to her head.

“Dean Luo personally thanked me when I met with him, you should know," her grandmother continued.

A round of 'woos' and 'wows' resounded across the table, with Nen and her family clapping loudly.

Unbeknownst to the celebrating members of the family, the head of the table had grown increasingly silent. With babulya mingling beside Gwen, no one but Percy had noticed Guo sitting by himself beside Percy with an impassionate expression.

“Sit down! Don’t be an embarrassment!” The Patriarch Wang, Tao’s father, slapped his son on the head. “Why can’t you be more like Gwen? She’s from the Frontier, and she's a hundred times more well-spoken than you.”

He turned to Gwen.

“Please continue to take care of my son,” Wang stated seriously. "He's going to need it..."

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Gwen replied, batting her hands. Turning away from Tao’s father, she opened the letter taken from her smiling babulya and scanned the first few lines.

‘Dear Gwen Song,

Congratulations on your Full Scholarship Admission to Fudan University under the LCSS program! For nearly 100 years, Fudan has proudly welcomed new Mages into its fold, and we are excited for you to be part of this great tradition. As a member of the cohort of 2003, you will join a dynamic Spellcraft community in a place of endless magical opportunities…

… Yours Sincerely, Luo Jiang, Dean.’

“Oh, babulya!” Gwen folded the letter carefully and stowed it within her ring, then she enveloped her babulya and hugged her petite torso tightly.

This was it! It was finally here, here was her new beginning! Gwen felt overwhelmed with wordless joy. Now she had finally taken a step into the Path that her Master had planned for her. Here and now, she had finally arrived at the starting line.

Across from the table, Percy’s eyes flittered between his stoic grandfather and his sister. There was something terrible simmering beneath the old man; he had spent enough time with Guo over the last two weeks to at least know that much. It was like sitting beside a volcano that one knew was about to blow, but had no way off the island. Torn between the sight of his grandfather gripping his fist into an iron ball, and the jubilant air just across the famous cornucopia of food, Percy finally chose to rise from his seat and joined the celebratory hug. His grandfather couldn't blame him for showing comfort in his sister's success, could he?

“Congrats, Sis.” Percy's voice carried over a wealth of emotions.

“Thanks, champ.” Gwen pulled her brother in and hugged him tightly. “You’ll be in University soon as well! I look forward to seeing you there in two years!”

“I am sure it’ll be awesome.” Percy parted from his sister, then became lost as to what to say or do next. His grandfather's eyes felt like a pair of spell-wands pointed at his back.

Hugs and hands were shared all around, with Petra pulling Gwen toward her and kissing her on the cheek.

"You knew!" Gwen accused her.

"Of course, I had to teach you!" Petra chuckled. Her smiling eyes were twin pools of crystalline water. “You better study twice as hard!”

Gwen nodded furiously, which caused the others to laugh in turn.

When Gwen turned back to the rest of her family, she was surprised to see her father before her.

“Good work,” Morye intoned proudly before opening his arms.

Gwen hesitated for a moment before allowing her jubilation to overcome her prejudice, permitting herself to fall into the rare indulgence of her father’s arms.

Her father’s arms wrapped around Gwen's shoulders and pulled her closer, squeezing her against his chest. Gwen smelt on him the familiar whiff of tobacco, and something else, something floral, pleasing and feminine. Ah-ha, Gwen didn't know whether to laugh or cry - even in his re-education, Morye managed to snag a woman. Then her father's lips leaned close to her ear.

“Your grandfather's up to something. Whatever it may be, keep your cool and give him what he wants. Mother will take care of you no matter what happens.”

Father and daughter parted. Gwen took on an expression of confusion as her father brushed a loose fringe back behind her ear.

“I am so proud!” Morye intoned loudly, enough for all to hear. “You make me very happy indeed.”

The rest of the congratulatory greetings became static as Gwen stole glimpses at her grandfather. It was true, she realised. The old man had not moved from his seat. His throbbing temple veins had the look of someon about to pop a gasket. The way his jaws locked seemed as though he was the victim of a Flesh to Stone.

Klavdiya then turned to Richard and produced another letter.

“Oh, Richard! Your turn!” Gwen gushed.

“For Mr Richard Huang… a Half-Scholarship award from the Lim-Chanrol Student Scholarship prize!”

“Incredible!” Mina applauded and gave Richard a tippy-toed embrace.

“I am happy for you.” Petra shook Richard's hands.

“Aw man! That sucks! Richard you da bomb! Why not a full Scholarship!” Tao expressed his honest feelings of injustice without reserve. "You'd wipe the floor with dem Clanners!"

But if Richard was disappointed, it did not show on his face.

“Thank you, thank you,” Richard thanked Klavdiya, making a reverent ninety-degree bow. “I am afforded this opportunity only because of you, Klavdiya. I am greatly in your debt.”

He then turned to Gwen and likewise bowed.

“You as well, Gwen. Thank you for allowing me to accompany you on your journey,” the young man announced earnestly.

“Richard, it was all you! I had nothing to do with it. The true gem's lustre shines unbidden. You’re the one who I should thank,” Gwen replied with a flustered expression, drawn away from her observation of Guo.

Caught in the moment, Gwen bowed toward Klavdiya as well.

“Thank you, babulya. None of this would have been possible without you.”

The gathering bathed in the mutual exchange of gratitude and congratulations.

Klavdiya watched the two with benevolent eyes that were moist with gladness. How beautiful it is to see one’s progeny like this! What more could a grandmother want from the world?

“The food is getting cold,” Guo’s baritone voice cut through the air like a sledgehammer.

The celebratory air hung itself as the Patriarch stood.

“Start eating,” he commanded.

“Alright, alright, we can all celebrate later, let's not waste the wonderful food the servants have spent hours on." Klavdiya urged them all to sit.

She had known that Guo wouldn't be too thrilled with her intervention in Gwen's and Richard's affairs, but she had likewise not expected Dean Luo's reply to come so quickly. Had she moved the timetable too excessively? Klavdiya wondered. Guo likely had imagined that she would have submitted Gwen for the cohort of the new year, starting seven months from now, and as full-fee paying student no less. The surprise that came to her as such a joy likely came to Guo like a slap in the face.

Klavdiya felt worried, of course, but she also felt a sliver of pleasure. She knew her husband wasn’t one for hugs and kisses. In fact, her stoic and loyal spouse detested any and all forms of overtly emotional display.

“Alright everyone, enjoy the banquet!”

The family returned to their seats and proceeded to work through the dozen or so dishes with polite chit-chatter. Recipes of exotic games passed to and from the Lazy Susan, filling serving plates and diminishing until only soups and sauces remained.

With Guo presiding over the dinner though, the process was conducted with careful politeness, as though there were landmines buried under the table and the slight touch of nerve might set it off.

Finally, after an agonising hour, Guo stood from the head of the table.

The rest of the family rested their spoons and chopsticks.

“Gwen, Percy, I need to speak to you. Come see me in my Meeting Room.”

Without ceremony and with the usual stoicism of his usual self, Guo left the room.

Gwen met the eyes of her family and communicated an apologetic look with her eyes before she too left the table. Percy agitatedly threw his napkin onto the chair for the servants to collect, and followed Guo closely.

Klavdiya left her seat to escort Gwen.

“I suspect I know what he wants.” Klavdiya had by now lost all of the joy she’d acquired since delivering the good news. She had miscalculated. She hadn't thought through the extent of her husband's reaction. Underestimated still how much he cared for not only his heir - but also the legitimacy of his heir. Her hand gripped Gwen's arm. "Gwen, whatever happens, it's not your fault. It's mine. I pushed for this."

Gwen held her babulya's hand and looked across the courtyard, where the entrance of the Meeting Room stood like a gaping maw.

"It's alright," Gwen spoke with kindness. Her mind might be a jumble, but she could never blame Klavdiya. "The fault, dearest babulya, is not in ourselves, but in the stars."


A note from Wutosama

Next CH might take a while 

there's a hugely depressing cliff at 4k words... but I've decided to just ... finish off the whole seg as to avoid bumming people out. It'll probably finish just under 7k. It heralds the end of the "Welcome to Shanghai Arc" and officially begins the "University" arc. 

About the author


Bio: I write on the phone and edit at home. Times are tough!

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